HASSAN BELLO

COVID-19: Why FG Allowed Seaports Open for Business, by Bello

*Says even in hardest hit countries, port operations continue without hindrance
*Harps on President’s directive of giving clearance of essential goods priority

Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Barr Hassan Bello, weekend explained the reason why the federal government allowed seaports to open for business despite the ravaging coronavirus in many parts of the world and Nigeria.
Bello during a press briefing attended by some stakeholders in the industry said it was normal like other countries for Nigeria to open its ports for business.
He explained that even in the hardest hit countries, port operations have continued without let or hindrance, adding that Nigeria could not have been an exception.
Bello said, “In an interdependent world, goods continue to move around and the manufacturing of goods cannot be halted otherwise economies would be in bigger trouble than they are set to be as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many essential commodities, particularly drugs, medical equipment and consumables need to be imported by many countries including Nigeria”.
According to him, it was against this background that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council stepped up its engagement with port operators by providing transportation to and from the ports daily for freight forwarders during the period if the lockdown.
He said that response to this service has been encouraging, adding that the Council visited some terminals in the course of the week and had very useful discussions with their operators.
He said the discussions have led to the Council intervening on behalf of freight forwarders with banks to extend their services to port operators in order to allow them pay fees to various agencies to facilitate clearance of cargoes from ports.
The NSC CEO stressed the need to give clearance of essential goods priority as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, such goods as medicine, medical equipment among other pharmaceutical products were most needed at such trying times.
Noting that it was wrong to have the terminals clogged up with more uncleared cargoes, Bello pointed out that following its intervention a number of banks have been cooperating as their branches opened for business in Apapa to ease transactions for freight forwarders.
He listed some of the banks that opened for business at Apapa as Zenith, UBA, FCMB and GTB, adding that discussions were ongoing.
He said that so far all the stakeholders have been very cooperative in the efforts to ensure that activities in the maritime sector suffer minimum disruption.
Apart from meeting with NIMASA and terminal operators, Bello said his Council has also been engaging the Port Health Services as well to ensure that port users, and indeed the generality of Nigerians were protected from the virus as essential goods make their way into the country.
“Nigerian Shippers’ Council has made some modest contribution in cash and protective materials towards the fight against COVID-19. However, its most important contribution is in ensuring that it does not drop the ball in terms of its responsibility as Port Economic Regulator in these very fluid and difficult times. This is why we continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure that the ports run as smoothly as possible under the circumstances”, he said.
He acknowledged the hardwork, commitment and cooperation of the Vice President’s team on Post COVID-19 economy, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation’s Task Force on COVID-19, the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwoolu and his COVID-19 team, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Kayode Odumosu, Port Health Services, NIMASA, NPA, CRFFN, medical workers, security officers and researchers working all hours to find a vaccine for the virus, among others.
The Registrar of the Council for the Regulations of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Barr Samuel Nwakohu who also spoke at the event advised freight forwarders who want to clear luxury goods to hold on until after the lockdown.
According to him, priority is currently being given to clearance of essential goods since the primary aim of the government was to look after the health of the people.

The briefing was attended by leaders of customs agents/freight forwarders associations including the President of Association of Customs Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Iju Tony Nwabunike, Founder of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam and President of Shippers Association Lagos State, Rev Jonathan Nicol, NAGAFF President, Chief Increase Uche, Vice President of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto, President of NAFAC, Mr. Yinka Bakare, Chief Austen Kelly, among others.

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Bello: Dry Ports Coming with Success Story of Export Boom

* Says Funtua, Jos Dry Ports to be commissioned soon

The Jos and Funtua dry ports will soon be ready, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello has said.
Bello told newsmen in Lagos that the two dry ports will be ready between December this year and January 2020.
According to him “we have up till December to bring on board Funtua and Jos. Two weeks ago, we had meetings with Funtua and Jos – and we gave them the timeline for us to work so we see things are done”.
Bello also said that a lot of progress is being made by Kaduna dry port , but added that the issue remains the slow movement of containers from the seaports to the dry ports through rail.
“Am worried about the capacity of the railway. Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) now takes containers from Lagos to Kaduna where they are examined. Of course, because it is a narrow guage, we are worried about the speed which is 60KPH – that is the average. Am also worried about derailment. We need frequency and certainty – so that we can schedule that in every two days, it will take about 40 containers. They are overwhelmed in Kaduna. Many shippers have come, companies like Nokako in Kaduna, Orland Farms. They want to use Kaduna, but the capacity of the rail”, he said.
He however said that every agency of government has shown commitment to the success of the dry port.
Bello mentioned the Nigerian Railway as making every effort to increase the number of containers being moved to Kaduna by rail on weekly basis.
He said, “ we have upped the number of containers. Nigerian Railway has been very committed and the containers are taken there, they are examined there. The Customs Service has upgraded their Command . Central Bank has recognized Kaduna in electronic Form M – Kaduna as a port. Many banks are moving because of the transaction. NDLEA, SON, SSS, Police are in Kaduna”.
Bello also disclosed that Kaduna is witnessing a lot of export growth because of the dry port.
He said, ” Export has grown in Kaduna. Cow horn, ginger, habiscus are being exported through Kaduna. So what Shippers Council is trying to do is to acquire the land adjacent Kaduna dry port so that we have it for processing. We don’t want these raw materials to be exported. We want ginger to be processed and packaged so that there will be value addition. This will mean employment for people. We want zobo to be processed and packaged. We have been working with the Ministry of Finance to have a pre – inspection agency so that what we do, immediately this is done, the ship is waiting because of schedules and train will take these things. So more exports will be done. Kaduna will be a success story. Especially with rail coming on. And then we are looking at Kano which unfortunately has not been able to do anything. But we are into it. The moment we do that we will decongest the seaports and we bring shipping closer to the people and we grow the economies where these dry ports are sited.
“Am happy with what is happening in Kaduna, am happy with the regulators, CBN, Nigeria Customs and many others who recognized Kaduna and they are doing business there”.
When asked on the effect of the Council’s effort to assist some of the concessionaires to secure investors for their projects, Bello said a tremendous result has been recorded.
He said, “ some (dry ports) are dealing with Chinese companies. Like Jos, some with the Canadian investors at Isiala Ngwa. They are working at it – always having meetings”.
On the concerns raised that there is low volume of containers leaving Lagos to Kaduna on weekly, Bello said that shippers should also understand that this will soon be over.
He equally added that people should not forget that trucks also go to Kaduna with containers.
He said, “ It is low because of the capacity of the rail. But he has forgotten that trucks also come with the containers”.
He however added that the rail system was the best so that containers can be tracked to avoid diversion.
He said, “What we want is that with rail, we can tract the containers – so that there will not be any diversion – so that Customs will not lose that revenue. That is very important”
He disclosed that very soon , the people of Niger will be coming to inspect Kaduna so that their cargo can come through dry port.
“ We had meetings with Niger three weeks ago. They want their cargo to come, but they are looking at Kaduna. Already the Kaduna State government has led a trade delegation to Niger – so that they will consolidate that”.
He commended the Kaduna State government for their efforts in ensuring the success of the dry port through infrastructure development.
“Whatever happens to Kaduna, we should not forget, has the support of the Kaduna state government which has been solidly behind the Kaduna dry port. They provided so many things, the roads. They have done the in and out of the roads, they have provided security, light, water and any other infrastructure. So, what we are trying now to do is to make Kaduna security compliant, ISPS Code. It is very important, that is what is remaining. Then, the FIATA recognizing them which we are doing with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding (CRFFN) “
He added that the Council wants to acquire more land in Kaduna for export processing purposes.
“ Like I said Shippers Council wants to acquire the land so that we have factories at the port processing and packaging. We are acquiring more land with NRC. But we also have another land in Kaduna which has more space than the one near the dry port. This we are doing with Commonwealth Investment and Enterprise Council and the NEXIM Bank. They are going to give the support and Kaduna will be a full port. This we hope to do in Jos where we have two applications for industries to be located near the Jos dry port. We have Smelters there, we are already talking with them to see what could be done. But this whole idea is that we could reach Europe from Jos more than South Africa. It is about five hours to Europe, Germany, Britain and so on. We have that dream to do that”.

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Bello: Cargo Tracking Note Will End Alterations in Cargo Manifests, Boost Revenue from Ports

As the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) gets set to sign a landmark agreement with shipping companies to reduce charges by 35 per cent, the ports economic regulator says the planned reintroduction of Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) will address security issues , malpractices in tonnage and goods declarations in Nigerian ports. The Executive Secretary of the Council;, Mr Hassan Bello, in this interview with SHIPPING DAY says CTN apart from being a strong security measure for the country and veritable source of data will equally boost revenue collections by the Customs Service, NIMASA and NPA as there will be no more alterations of the manifest and weight of ships. Bello among others, also speaks on the dry ports projects in some states as well as the outcome of the meeting organised by the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) in London where issues of arbitrary surcharges against shippers in Nigeria and other African countries were discussed. Excerpts

African shippers under the Union of African Shippers Council (UASC) attended the meeting of Global Shippers Forum (GSF) in London recently where the issue of shipping surcharges by ship owners against African shippers were discussed, can you give us an insight on what happened?
Yes. We had a fruitful meeting. We had Assian Shippers, Shippers Council from Italy, European Shippers Council and the British Shippers Council who were part of the meeting. We also had the International Chamber of Commerce, ship owners and many others..
Now, the idea is cost. Cost is very important in shipping as you know and to our national economy. We want a reasonable cost. We want effective cost and we want fair cost. What we seem to have is global understanding as shippers that some of these charges, especially the surcharges are not as transparent as we want them to be. But even more fundamental is that these charges are done arbitrarily – without consultations with the owners of the cargo. We think that when you go to the restaurant, at least you will see the cost and you will be given a receipt and then you will know what you have consumed and what you have not. So, we are looking at participatory level whereby shippers will participate in deciding the cost of shipping and that is fundamental. So, a lot of things came up and we think that shippers should directly deal with the carriers instead of the agents so that we have a framework for setting up these charges. And we suspect that because freight has been very stable and low until recently because of competition, there is tendency for carriers to make up charges elsewhere apart from their freight. So the position of our total team, we were with Ghana and others is to have more transparency by shipping lines. We want participation in decision making.
On the surcharges, the information we had was that the ship owners disowned some of the charges, saying they were imposed by the agents?
I want to confirm that. The surcharges are abnormal things. If such things disappear, the surcharge should also disappear. If you have congestion surcharge, maybe it is justifiable, but when there is no congestion, why should surcharge remain?. When we have bunker adjustment surcharge, that means the fuel is high, but what of when the fuel price comes low what happens?. Look at what we have been saying about war risk – making Nigerian cargo the most expensive may be in the world. $1,500 for 20ft container to bring it to Lagos. $3,000 if it is going to the Eastern port. We have to know what are the risks, you cannot unilaterally, arbitrarily decide these surcharges. So, there is no transparency – and it is against all European anti- trust laws. I know that the anti- trust laws have been a little bit lenient to shipping for some obvious reasons, but we ought to know. The Global Shippers Forum (GSF) is engaged now with Lyods to find out what is happening to this war risks. Then, one of the most important thing is that GSF has asked Nigeria to host its next meeting probably in March or April next year. This is an opportunity for Nigeria to come and make its stand, because it will be effective. There is a legislation Sri-Lanka did. Sri – Lankans were there. The idea is to minimize some charges that are already freight inclusive – because we believe by paying freight, some of these charges have already been dealt with. Freight is part of that. You have in-coterns which says liner in liner out for example which means evacuation of the cargo from the ship to the terminals where the shipper collects. You don’t have to pay that. Or loading of cargo from destination. The shipper has already taken that in the freight..
Then the issue of delay of cargo – we have to look at it because delay could be dangerous. All these things, the responsibility of the terminal operations must be taken into consideration. What is the responsibility of the freight forwarder, what is the responsibility of the shipping lines and so forth. We have all to go to class now and determine them according to international practice. We have no fear of paying charges but let it be related to services. Let me give you an example during our negotiation with shipping companies. Container cleaning charge is that all the containers that come here have to be cleaned. Is that possible?. We said no, you have to convince us that these containers will have to be cleaned. So, that is what me are doing now. We have removed container cleaning charges in our negotiation, unless you prove that it is dirty. Then we have inserted a clause that says if through no fault of a shipper, he cannot return the container, then he should not be charged demurrage. What people don’t know is that the Central Bank has given us responsibility now to look at demurrages. We are looking at not only of freight charges but also reasonableness of demurrages.
We have to thank the CBN for doing that. They know we are experts in shipping business and they have leased some of their regulatory functions.
We have saved a lot of money. We are going to give the report very soon.

Why is that coming from CBN?

CBN is the one that controls foreign exchange.
One thing I will say is that we have to commend the shipping companies because of their understanding and their commitment to finding solution to arbitrary and unilateral fixing of costs. They have been here, we have been meeting one and half years. The deal we are going to sign, may be we could do better – but let us start. It has opened a vista of dispute mechanism settlement and for effective cost. We have reduced the charges from the nomenclature, from 16 to 5, so that we don’t have all these charges. We have reduced some of these charges – the headings.
But one of the problems which I have highlighted to the Ministry of Transportation is the agencies of government we are going to face next. Neither the NPA or NIMASA or Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) will charge any kobo without coming to the Nigerian Shippers Council and I am happy the Minister is agreeing with what we are saying. So NPA, if you want to make charges, come and negotiate with us because a charge from NPA could wipe out all the gains we have made. So, I am happy, Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority….. we had a problem, because one of the terminals raised some charges and we wrote to them that they have no right to impose such charges, and then we met – and through that we stopped the charge. They (Oil and Gas) are economists; they understand the implication of that quickly. So, if we can have such cooperation from an organization outside the Ministry of Transport, why can’t we have with people inside. For example, NIMASA is charging environmental fees, so also NPA is doing the same. And we can’t have that. That is duplication. This will raise the charges more. We want charges to be tied to services. We are getting a lot of support from the Ministry of Transportation. We are also getting now to understand ourselves, each other or one another with NIMASA. For example we are doing a lot of things with NIMASA. We think that coming together with NIMASA is very important as far as these charges are concerned.
Gradually, what we are trying to do is to make sure that there is not only ease of doing business but also that the cost is reasonable.
Nigerian ports are very expensive and that is disservice to shipping, disincentive to shipping. That is why people may take their cargo elsewhere as an economic decision.
There was a suggestion that you apply the Sri – Lankan example in Nigeria ports. How possible is that in Nigeria?
Yes. It is. What we are saying is that legislation will cure this kind of things. We met with the Sri – Lankan authorities in London. You know Shipper Council engages stakeholders. We cannot do anything without the stakeholders. Even this MOU, we have just got a draft now. So, am going to meet with the shippers, freight forwarders, MAN, NACCIMA, all the trade groups, and say this is what I have been able to extract. Am going to also plead with their patience so that this is just the beginning. For how many years we never had such kind of thing. It is not something we go all way and say we have done that, but gradually. The most important thing is that there is now a basis for negotiation. And when we are going to negotiate, we have to bring the shippers in. It is not only NSC. For example, when we went to Global Shippers Forum (GSF) we carried shippers with us. There was Cadbury, I think and they are with the Lagos Chamber of commerce and industry (LCCI) , because they are the ones we know. We are just the institution. But we have to make sure that shippers are involved.
Sir, we thought the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) was forgotten, can you throw more light on the stage if is now?.
The international Cargo Tracking Note is another instrument that will add tremendously in shipping development. It will boost the revenue of the government in customs revenue collection in the sense that it will abate under – declaration and concealment. It will boost the revenue of NPA because there will be no more alteration of the manifest. It will boost the revenue of NIMASA because under – declaration on the weight of ships will not be there any longer. But most important is that the beauty of it is that CTN is a veritable source of data. You will know everything that is coming into your country. We have had many African countries having this because it is the initiation of Union of African Shippers Council (UASC), Cameroun, Niger that is even land – locked and many other countries have Cargo Tracking Note. So, you got to k now what is coming to your country. It is a security document because, if you knew, there will not be proliferation of firearms. We have discussed with the Comptroller – General of Custom when he came here and we have been talking with him, and he is on it.
There are technical hitches because we ran into problem with the agent that was supposed to do that. But now we – NSC, NPA, NIMASA and Customs Service, are coming jointly with Shippers Council in the lead to make sure this thing is done. I hope by the time we have the final report on it, we should be able to start the CTN. To check expenses, because of the volume, what we proposed was very very low. It is the lowest in the whole world. Because our own is not actually the direct revenue but what it will do to the economy and the security, and of course data that we will collect.
Any development on the dry port project?
Yes, we have up till December to bring on board Funtua and Jos. Then, the federal government will now finance the connection of rail into the dry ports. In fact, estimates have already been given to the Nigerian Railway Corporation to ensure that this is done. When we do that, by December, January we commission the two. But others, we are still having problems. You know this has been concessioned to the private sector and so we are looking at new business outline cases they are submitting. We are giving them time to do that, and we threaten to cancel the concession if they are not able to do so.
At a point you were sourcing some investors for them to make the project faster. What is the situation?
We did, in fact, some are dealing with Chinese companies. Like Jos, some with the Canadian investors at Isiala Ngwa.
They are working at it – always having meetings. Two days ago, we had meetings with Funtua and Jos – and we gave them the timeline for us to work so we see things are done. Am worried about the capacity of the railway. Nigerian Railway Corporation now takes containers from Lagos to Kaduna where they are examined. Of course, because it is a narrow guage, we are worried about the speed which is 60KPH – that is the average. Am also worried about derailment. We need frequency and certainty – so that we can schedule that in every two days, it will take about 40 containers. They are overwhelmed in Kaduna. Many shippers have come, companies like Nokako in Kaduna, Orland Farms. They want to use Kaduna, but the capacity of the rail. But now, we have upped the number of containers. Nigerian Railway has been very committed and the containers are taken there, they are examined there. The Customs Service has upgraded their Command ….Central Bank has recognized Kaduna in electronic Form M – Kaduna as a port. Many banks are moving because of the transaction. NDLEA, SON, SSS, Police are in Kaduna. Export has grown in Kaduna. Cow horn, ginger, habiscus are being exported through Kaduna. So what Shippers Council is trying to do is to acquire the land adjacent Kaduna dry port so that we have it for processing. We don’t want these raw materials to be exported. We want ginger to be processed and packaged so that there will be value addition. This will mean employment for people. We want Zobo to be processed and packaged. We have been working with the Ministry of Finance to have a pre – inspection agency so that what we do, immediately this is done, the ship is waiting because of schedules and train will take these things. So more exports will be done. Kaduna will be a success story. Especially with rail coming on. And then we are looking at Kano which unfortunately has not been able to do anything. But we are into it. The moment we do that we will decongest the seaports and we bring shipping closer to the people and we grow the economies where these dry ports are sited.
Am happy with what is happening in Kaduna, am happy with the regulators, CBN, Nigeria Customs and many others who recognized Kaduna and they are doing business there.
There is this worry that an operator expressed recently that the volume of cargo from Lagos to Kaduna in about 20 per week. How do you react to this?
It is low because of the capacity of the rail. But he has forgotten that trucks also come with the containers.
What we want is that with rail, we can tract the containers – so that there will not be any diversion – so that Customs will not lose that revenue. That is very important. But in two weeks time, the Niger people are coming to inspect Kaduna – which is significant. We had meetings with Niger three weeks ago. They want their cargo to come, but they are looking at Kaduna. Already the Kaduna State government has led a trade delegation to Niger – so that they will consolidate that. Whatever happens to Kaduna, we should not forget, has the support of the Kaduna state government which has been solidly behind the Kaduna dry port. They provided so many things, the roads. They have done the in and out of the roads, they have provided security, light, water and any other infrastructure. So, what we are trying now to do is to make Kaduna security compliant, ISPS Code. It is very important, that is what is remaining. Then, the FIATA recognizing them which we are doing with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding (CRFFN) – And like I said Shippers Council wants to acquire the land so that we have factories at the port processing and packaging. We are acquiring more land with NRC. But we also have another land in Kaduna which has more space than the one near the dry port.This we are doing with Commonwealth Investment and Enterprise Council and the NEXIM Bank. They are going to give the support and Kaduna will be a full port. This we hope to do in Jos where we have two applications for industries to be located near the Jos dry port. We have Smelters there, we are already talking with them to see what could be done. But this whole idea is that we could reach Europe from Jos more than South Africa. It is about five hours to Europe, Germany, Britain and so on. We have that dream to do that.
We understand that there are proposals for building of dry ports in Delta State, can you comment on this sir?
Delta is just like every other state where we are bombed with proposals. I have met with the Economic Adviser of Delta State who is very very vast in economics and we have discussed. We also have proposal from Prof Pat Utomi and many entrepreneurs. We are considering them – because we encourage them to submit the outline case if they have proposals so we check the viability. We can’t be building dry ports if they are not going to be viable. We don’t want any white elephant project. Many state governments have come to say they want to have freight station, they want to have dry ports but we look at them and say, no, you can’t, either because it is proximate and already existing dry port or there will not be enough throughput to support such dry port. So, we are looking at the Delta issue. Staff of Shippers Council were in Delta just two weeks ago and had a meeting. We are looking at which is the most viable of them.

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Bello: Nigeria Needs N3 trillion to Bridge Transport Infrastructure Deficit

*As stakeholders lament lack of govt adequate attention to maritime sector
By Francis Ugwoke
The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers ‘Council, Barr. Hassan Bello, Tuesday said that Nigeria needs as much as N3 trillion to be able to address the issue of infrastructural deficit in the transport sector of the national economy..

Bello however said such infrastructural issue cannot be insurmountable but should be seen as opportunities which investors can leverage on to create wealth and jobs in the national economy.

Speaking on the occasion of the Transport Leadership lecture organized by Kings Communications on the next Level Leadeership, the NSC CEO said Nigeria can surmount the challenges in the transport sector through collaboration between the public and private sector.
He said the country needs to invest at least N100bn per annum in the next 30 years to be able to tackle infrastructure deficit.

Bello said, “We have a lot of challenges but they are not insurmountable because when I look at the deficit in infrastructure as it is said, we need N3 trillion to make up for our deficit, meaning that we need to spend about N100 billion every year till the next 30 years. We should not be down cast by the challenges but be rejuvenated by the opportunities presented by the infrastructure deficit”.

Bello added that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which President Muhammadu Buhari signed recently was a wonderful development which could be one way that the transport industry and the ports sector can grow.

He said, “The African Continental Free Trade Agreement could be the spur that we need because we are talking about the N2 trillion economy and 1.2 billion population as well 54 countries. We need to have imperial output to these negotiations”.

He said that Nigeria is currently doing well as far as trade is concerned with cargos coming from the competitors.

According to him, by the time the issue of infrastructures in Apapa environment is fixed, there will even be more improvement.

He said, Of course, we have the problem of interconnectivity, which is being solved now; at least, the chaos in Apapa has reduced drastically.
“We believe that by the time the infrastructure problems around Apapa are mitigated, we will see a resemblance of order but we are already having short, medium and long term solutions. Though, there are challenges but we are sure that they will be dealt with. And by August, the Council will sign the $500 million Ibadan Dry Port facility. We are seeing efficiency in our ports but we need to reform our trucking and cargo clearing system.”

Stakeholders who attended the event had expressed concern over lack of adequate attention to the maritime sector by the federal government.
Former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr Temisan Omatseye who was the Chairman of the occasion said the stakeholders will be ready for the next Minister of Transport and tell him the truth.

Similarly, another former DG, NIMASA, Mrs. Ufom Usoro, called on government agencies in the transport sector to collaborate and set target for a better transport system
Usoro also called for an integrated transportation policy, adding that this will lead to an efficient transport system.
President of League of Maritime Editors and Publishers, Mr Kingsley Anaroke who is also the Managing Director of Kings Communications in his welcome address said the advocacy for the appointment of professionals to head the ministries and agencies by stakeholders was gradually shifting from professionalism to performance and leadership assessment.
Anaroke said “it the quest to maximize the huge potentials in the sector through the right leadership or performance based leadership capable of positioning the sector to take its critical place in the Next Level agenda of the current regime and the emerging new technology-driven transportation world that gave birth to the MMS Transport Agencies’ Performance Rating with its reward system, Award for sterling performance to spur others to action, while the lecture arm of it, the Transport Leadership Lecture is to help crystallize the philosophy of good governance”.

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Bello Tasks Journalists on Health Checks, Insurance

The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello Wednesday advised journalists for regular health checks to avert any future or sudden health crisis.
Bello who spoke on the occasion of the colloquium in honour of late Chief Ubon Akpan held in Apapa said a structured health check and insurance scheme for journalists have become very imperative for the well being of practitioners.
According to him, an early or regular checks help in tackling dangerous health issues by anyone.
He said, “If you don’t check your health you would not know and that is the reason we advocating for all these benefits for journalists.
“Aside that of health insurance we also want to suggest that issues of insurance should be looked into as well” .
Bello who described Ubon as an exceptional journalists called on journalists to emulate his good qualities.
During the event, medical experts drawn from the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) advised journalists on the need for regular exercise.
Regular exercise according to the experts was very important to remain healthy.
Maritime journalists who attended the colloquium described late Ubon as a core professional who loved journalism practice.
The former Editor of Sun Newspapers, Mr Emeka Okoroanyanwu, described Ubon as a fearless journalist who thrived on truth.
He said the maritime industry will miss Ubon for his exceptional qualities as a practitioner.
The late maritime Journalist who died about a month ago practised for 33 years working in major national newspapers before venturing into his media practice .

He was former President of Maritime Reports Assocition of Nigeria (MARAN) and also a founding member of League of Maritime Editors and Publishers.

In 1999 he had teamed up Asu Beks, Emeka Okoroanyanwu, Alban Opara and Pius Mordi – to co-found Maritime Publications Limited which pioneered the publication of specialised journal through Maritime Quarterly magazine.

He served his community and worked assiduously for the uplifting of his people as one-time president of the Ibiono Ibom Welfare and Development Association (IWADA) in Lagos among various capacities, according to his friend Asu Beks.
Beks who is the Chairman Committee of Friends said in a statement “ Ubon also served in the executive council of the Akwa Ibom State Community (AKISCOM), Lagos branch.
“His early education began at the famous Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar from where he proceeded to The Polytechnic, Calabar where he obtained a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication. He went to University of Ibadan where he completed a program in Masters in Communication Arts (MCA).
“Witty, boisterous and outspoken, Ubon as he was called by his friends and colleagues longed for a better Nigeria welcoming to entrepreneurship, a factor that made him shun paid employment to actualise his dream of being a genuine stakeholder in Nigeria’s shipping industry.
He is survived by his wife Esther, children and siblings”.

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Establishment of National Fleet Will Raise Shipping Sector Contribution to GDP, Says Hassan Bello

*National fleet will support FG’s economic diversification effort
*Calls for more participation of women in shipping

Establishment of a national fleet in the shipping industry remains the only assurance to boost the contribution of the sector to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP), the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello has said.
Speaking on the occasion of this year’s Seafarers Day celebration in Lagos, Bello stressed the need for the federal government to accelerate action on the establishment of a national fleet for the interest of the national economy.
He said national fleet implementation will change the current poor contribution of 0.05 per cent from the shipping sector to GDP.
He also said that having a national fleet will preserve the outflow of foreign exchange in the area of carriage of Nigerian cargoes and lead to the development of the maritime industry.
According to him, Nigeria spent about $9 billion as freight on wet and dry cargo about five years ago.
He added that having a national fleet will equally support the federal government’s economic diversification agenda as it will create room for various ancillary services with massive employment for Nigerians.
He told newsmen, “Some of the benefits Nigeria will derive from a national fleet will be to stem and preserve the outflow of foreign exchange for the carriage of the nation’s cargos. Enhance the development of the Nigerian maritime industry with significant contribution to the GDP. At present, shipping contributes a paltry 0.05 per cent to GDP. In other countries such as Greece, it is 3.6 per cent and the United Kingdom 0.2 per cent.”
“In the international carriage of goods, Nigeria does not have a single ship, so all what we have been doing is slave for foreign ships. About $9 billion and rising is what we pay, not for Nigerian ships but ships elsewhere. Imagine what the earnings of freight will do, if these are Nigerian ships? When we talk of Nigerian ships, we are also talking about our Nigerian banks, insurance companies, mariners, seafarers, surveyors and our seamen. All these are not gaining because we don’t have ships. So the issue is not actually whether women are going to be employed but on what ships. We need to have those ships before women are employed.
“The national fleet issue is also important to us. We ought to have Nigerians owning and operating ships, we have lost a lot of money on freight to foreign companies, billions of dollars, if we are the ones having that, the billions we earn in freight will at least have effect on our economic growth, employment and open up ancillary services. We are talking about ship yards, ship repair yards; we are also talking about our flag administration, nautical colleges, having trained seafarers to do that.
“The national fleet is three-year so that we can have it in Nigeria, but to do that, there are so many so laws and policies that you have to review that is what the fleet is doing, there are also incentives we have to offer private sector. Don’t forget that the national fleet is private sector led, government will not put a kobo, but the government will have to look at laws, policies that militate against investment especially in that sector. We are talking about tax holidays and relaxing of certain procedures, and overall conducive atmosphere for that investment to thrive”.
The NSC chief executive also called for more participation of women in seafaring, adding that only two percent of world seafarers were women.
Bello said “the reason for the low percentage of women in seafaring is understandable. It ranges from the harsh working environment in the sea to issues such as sexual harassment, gender discrimination and inappropriate comments. Section 17 of the Nigeria constitution states that every citizen should have equal right before the law, despite this catalytic provision, it has not been easy for women to fight gender discrimination”.

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Dry Ports Will Stimulate Economic Growth, Prosperity, Says Transport Minister

*As movement of containers to Kaduna dry port by rail takes off
By Onynyi Apeh
Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi Tuesday said that the dry ports projects were designed to stimulate economic growth and prosperity.
Amaechi who spoke on the occasion of the official ceremony for the beginning of delivery of cargo by rail to Kaduna said dry ports will bring economic boom to states where they are located.
The Minister who was represented on the occasion by the Director, Maritime Service, Mr.Sani Galadanci, said the federal government has always made efforts to rehabilitate the rails to ensure intermodal transport connectivity throughout the country.
Amaechi descried the dry ports as transport infrastructure projects being promoted by the Ministry and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC).
According to him, it was mainly to address the inadequate access to the seaports, congestion, carnage on the roads and loss of cargo on transit.
Executive Secretary, NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello who spoke on the occasion said the Kaduna dry port was granted approval as far back as January 2015 and inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari January last year.
Bello said the movement of cargo by rail to the dry port will address the issues suffered by importers and exporters.
He also said the rail will guarantee seamless transportation of cargo from the seaport to Kaduna dry port.
Bello added that the exercise will lead to safety of cargo as well as bring about efficiency in operation.
He said, “It is hoped that with this flag off, the hinterland and land locked countries boardering Nigerian shippers will take advantage of the dry port for increased and sustained shipping activities”.
He commended the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) for their support.
According to him, two rains will be moving to Kaduna each week.
Bello said, “Most importantly also, taking out export because that is very important, all containers that come will not leave empty.
“We intend to make this place a centre for export. we are in talk with so many investment agencies, the latest is the Commonwealth Council for Enterprise and Investment who are coming to look at the facilities here”.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai said with the dry port, importers can now ship their goods from any part of the world to the dry port.
He said, “Today’s event has opened a new vista of commercial opportunities not only for Northern businessmen, but also neighbouring countries
”I am very happy about this because, this day means the end of our comparative disadvantage as a land locked state as this shipment clearly shows that the Kaduna dry port has been recognised as port of destination as well as port of reception of all imports and exports through out the world.
”We are grateful to the ministry of transportation, the shippers council, Inland Container Nigeria Limited and all the regulatory agencies that worked hard to make this possible, ”

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Shippers’ Council Advocates for Formation of National Shippers’ Association

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has advocated for the need for the formation of a National Shippers’ Association across the country.

The Council which saw this as part of the efforts to revitalize and strengthen the Shippers Association advocated for the new National Association of Shippers
at a one-day meeting with selected Presidents of State Shippers’ Association at the Council head office in Lagos on Tuesday by the Executive Secretary/ Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Hassan Bello.

Bello, who was represented at the meeting by the Director, Consumer Affairs Department, Chief C.C Agu, stated that the forum is to provide a platform that would develop a framework for the formulation of a credible and resourceful National Shippers’ Association.

He also emphasized that the shippers are and still remain the most important partners to the Council.

He said ‘‘The key priority of the Council is to ensure that shippers are constituted into strong and formidable blocks capable of negotiating with transport service providers on freight payable and associated transport costs’’.

At the end of the meeting, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Presidents of State Shippers’ Association unanimously agreed on the formulation of National Shippers’ Association.

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Bello Advocates for National Incentives to Encourage Indigenous Fleet Development

*Says Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee discussing zero import duty on vessels, support fund, others
*As League of Maritime Editors demands 10% of CVFF for media capacity building
By Francis Ugwoke
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Barr Hassan Bello, Thursday advocated for a deliberate government policy that will provide national incentives to encourage indigenous fleet development in the nation’s shipping industry.
Bello said such incentives shall be institutionalized to avoid political influence and made reliable for investors’ trust.
Speaking on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary Lecture/ Awards and Patrons’ Investiture ceremony under the theme, “Indigenous Fleet Development, What Options?”, Bello identified the incentives as “comparatively simple but reliable ship registration procedure” which is efficient and full of integrity.
Other incentives he advocated include, “a very strong safety administration system and procedures in support and protection of the registered ships, a systematic approach to the establishment of merchant shipping security and administration that provide confidence in shipping trade and understanding of the international shipping community;
Establish a reliable statistical data for the manning of flag ships and well coordinated training, examination and certification of seafarer in Nigeria; strategic plan and implementation procedures to ensure availability of cargo for interested indigenes; concern for ships’ repair and husbandry; reasonable protectionism for national fleet in operational procedures even when such requirements are not statutory or institutionalized; reliable communications and assistance to fleet; all entities concerning the carriage of national cargo should develop common interest on the sustainable success of the policy.
Bello argued that such enabling environment of national incentives will go a long way in fostering growth and development of the indigenous fleet in Nigeria.
Bello disclosed that the Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee which he chairs has so far identified zero import duty on vessels, tonnage tax as among the incentives necessary for the growth of indigenous fleet.
He said the Committee is currently discussing the need to abolish temporary importation permit, shipping sector support fund of about -2%per annum/9%, waiver of export tariff for use of Nigerian vessels and right of first refusal for National Carriers in the procurement process for cargo.
Bello also said the Committee is discussing the issuance of work permit only upon verification of unavailability of ratings or officers, change of Nigeria’s crude oil policy, CAC to adopt FIRS’s zero duty for ship finance registration and preferential berthing privileges.
He further disclosed that the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has so far expressed delight at the prospect of the country trying to find ways to return to international shipping and has directed the NFIC and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) to review the proposal and work out the details of incentives stating a holistic and credible approach to address the issues and represent for consideration and approval.
With the directive from the VP, Bello said the Committee has held meetings with the NIPC to work out the modalities for the granting and implementation of incentives to achieve the development and sustainability of the national fleet.
He said the Vice President equally charged his Committee to identify partnerships, benefits and the role of the private sector in achieving the Nigerian fleet project.
Chairman of the occasion, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho described the incentives being sought by the National Fleet Implementation Committee headed by Bello as what will turn around the nation’s shipping industry.
Commending Bello for the depth of knowledge in his paper as it covered a series of options available in indigenous fleet development however warned against government appointing the Chief Executive Officer (CEP) in the case of public private partnership (PPP) leading to establishment of a fleet company because of the experience of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL).
Meanwhile, the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers, has also called on the federal government to set aside 10 percent of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) for capacity building in the nation’s maritime media industry.
President of the League, Mr Kingsley Anaroke in his welcome address on the occasion of seminar said this has become necessary as the maritime media, mainly publishers share the fate being suffered by the Nigerian indigenous ship owners.
He said while the ship owners were currently suffering as a result of lack of funds to acquire fleet, the maritime media publishers have been faced with capacity development issues, including the resources needed for investigative and developmental journalism.
According to him, so much is needed in undertaking research, adding that the situation is worsened by lack of patronage by the agencies of government in the sector.
Anaroke said that this is even worrisome since maritime media is inundated with series of press releases being churned out by the agencies and which are published.
He said, “The point being made here is that maritime media publishers are critical stakeholders in the sector and should be treated as such. With about 65 Magazines, newspapers and online independent publishers in the sector, they have a combined workforce of over 255 members of staff with almost zero advert patronage on the average monthly from the maritime agencies and operators yet they have been adjudged as the most active in Africa.
“At this juncture, the League on behalf of the entire maritime media publishers, is calling on all the maritime and port regulatory agencies and private sector operators to avail us the needed support while we call on the federal government to enhance maritime journalism with 10 percent of the CVFF. This can be expressed within the framework of capacity building and local content legislations”.
Part of the highlights of the occasion was the swearing-in ceremony of the executive members of League led by Anaroke.
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) , Sifax Group and Comet Shipping received corporate awards from the League for their contributions in the industry.
While the NPA received a Corporate Award for Transparency and Infrastructural Development in Nigerian ports, the NSC was honoured for Port Economic Regulations in Nigeria.
Similarly, the Sifax Group received award for Outstanding Indigenous Terminal Operator in Nigeria, while Comet was honoured for excellent shipping services.
The founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGaff), Chief Boniface Aniebonam and the former President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) , Prince Olayiwola Shittu was also honoured with awards.
Aniebonam received the award for Promotion of Capacity Building in Freight Forwarding Industry in Nigeria while Shittu was honoured for Innovation in Customs Brokerage in Nigeria.

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Amaechi, Bello, Iheanacho Confirm Participation as League Holds 20th Anniversary Lecture, Awards

*Aniebonam, Shittu, others to receive awards

The League of Maritime Editors and Publishers (LOMEP) is to hold a
20th Anniversary Lecture, Awards and inauguration of Patrons and Executives of the body January 24, 2019.

The event which comes up at Golden Gate, Ikoyi, Lagos, will feature the recognition of deserving maritime industry leaders and reform agents as patrons and awardees.

While the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who is the Chief Guest of Honour, is billed to give the keynote address, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Barr Hassan Bello who is the Guest Speaker, will deliver the lecture on the topic: “Indigenous Fleet Development, What Options?”

Some of the agencies and firm to be recognized under the corporate award category include: Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) which got an award for “Transparency and Infrastructural Development in Nigerian Ports”; Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC) , an award for “ Port Economic Regulations in Nigeria”; Sifax Group, an award as “ Outstanding Indigenous Terminal Operator in Nigeria”.

The founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders(NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, was nominated for award under the individual award category for “Promotion of Capacity Building in Freight Forwarding Industry in Nigeria”

Also listed in the individual award category is former National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents(ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, who is being recognized for “Innovation in Customs Brokerage in Nigeria”.

Among the special guests of honour are: the Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority(NIWA), Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, Governing Council Chairman of Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria(CRFFN), Col. Tsanni Abubakar (rtd).

The former Minister of Interior, Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho is to serve as the Chairman of the occasion.

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